Tag: Bryce Ives

REVIEW: Zoe McDonald in FOMO

Impeccable theatre

By Bradley Storer

As we enter the space at Upstairs at Errol’s, we are met with the sight of a woman onstage frenziedly performing vocal warm-ups, talking both to herself and yelling down an invisible phone. The lights dim, and we are thrown into the world of a late-night radio programLet’s Be Honest on Mellow FM, being broadcast live, with us as the audience. The initial topic of the show is quickly derailed into an exploration of the ‘21st century malaise’, FOMO – fear of missing out.


Performer Zoe McDonald (a member of dynamic theatre creators Present Tense and seen in their productions Chant des Catacombes and Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert) portrays a large cast of characters with consummate skill in this solo outing. With lightning speed McDonald switches from the beleaguered host of the program to a variety of colourful characters – a bogan tattoo artist, a beautician/vajazzler from Croydon, an earthy American university professor and more who weigh in on the mysterious topic of the evening.  McDonald embodies each of these different personalities with such precise and perfect physicality and mannerism that she can evoke uproarious laughter with just the tilt of her head. Her energy seems truly boundless as swaps between the large cast non-stop for the entire show!

The subject of the show, this fear of missing out, is at first ambiguous in its meaning – structurally, the performance feels like a journey through a labyrinth, each character unfolding a small portion of the greater picture. We are told (at various points) it is a patriarchal construct we conform to, or a fiction society forces on us and we believe is true, or the pressure of living a life constantly under scrutiny by others. The climax of the evening comes when Zoe McDonald herself (a hitherto unseen but ever present character in the goings on of Let’s Be Honest) appears and unveils how FOMO is formed of the simplest but deepest fears which affect us all: the fear of intimacy, the fear of failure, the fear of dying alone. McDonald’s true voice rings with such simplicity, truth and clarity that after the comedic mania of her characters it is akin to being bathed in cool cleansing water.

Presented as part of this year’s Melbourne Fringe festival and in collaboration with Bryce Ives and Present Tense, FOMO is a deeply engaging, rewarding, and unbelievably hilarious show!

Venue: Upstairs at Errol’s, 69 – 71 Errol St, North Melbourne

Dates:  20th September – 4th October

Time: 8pm (7pm Sundays)

Price: Full $23, Concession $18, Group (Min: 4) $15, Tuesdays $15

Tickets: www.melbournefringe.com.au, Ticketing Hotline: 03 9660 9666 or at the venue.

Review: MARGARET FULTON – Queen of the Dessert

An exciting new Australian musical takes the cake

By Bradley Storer

The atmosphere on the official opening night of Margaret Fulton: Queen of the Dessert, a new Australian musical written by Doug Macleod and Yuri Worontschak, was overflowing with enthusiasm and national pride.

Greeted at the door of the Theatreworks performance space by members of the cast offering Anzac biscuits and mini-Australian flags, the anticipation of seeing a brand new musical intermingled with a sense of coming together as a community to celebrate the life of an Australian icon (heightened by the presence of the lady herself).

We are taken on a whirlwind ride through episodes of Fulton’s life, from her beginnings as a country girl moving to Sydney, her life in the bohemian underground and her (at the time) unconventional choices of lifestyle, several marriages marred by misery and disaster, on to the heights she gained through her own industrious, strong-willed nature and ingenuity, changing the cultural landscape of Australia forever.

Amy Lehpamer brings to the title role a simultaneous combination of delicacy, refinement and inner strength, a beautiful flower tipped in steel. This is backed up by a powerhouse of a voice which can move as easily from a caress of a whisper to a roof-raising belt. Although illustrating Fulton’s strength and poise to great effect, in the show’s more emotional moments her restraint was frustrating – I wanted Lehpamer to let down the character’s walls and yield to the full power of her passions, even if only for a few moments.

The Present Tense ensemble, under the direction of Bryce Ives, are all strong performers in their own right. Josh Price and Laura Burzacott in particular provide the most side-splitting moments of the evening, Price as a series of grotesque caricatures of Fulton’s various lovers and industrial misogynists, and Burzacott as Bea, Fulton’s long-time friend from her bohemian days, who embodies the character with good-hearted ribaldry.

The book is well-crafted if at times clumsy – it feels at points as though Fulton’s achievements are being ticked off on a list, simply being pointed out rather than explaining how these achievements emerged from her life and circumstances. After one of the best and highly emotional scenes in the narrative, the show unfortunately peters out in its last few moments as though it has lost even a glimmer of narrative.

Overall though, this is an exciting, inspiring and highly entertaining production which pays tribute to the incredible achievements of a true national icon in glorious and gut-bustingly funny song.

Date: 16 Nov 2012 – 01 Dec 2012

Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda Time: Tue, Wed, Thu at 8pm, Fri & Sat 7pm & 9.30pm

Price: $45 full / $30 conc, under 30s & groups 10+/ $25 preview [plus booking fee]

Bookings: www.theatreworks.org.au or 03 9534 3388

REVIEW: Tracy Harvey Smoking’ At The Paris Cat

A new musical in the works is turning up the heat…

By Kim Edwards

Tracy Harvey is a favourite and familiar lady of Australian comedy, but last night it was all about the music.

The intimate confines of the Paris Cat jazz club were bustling with local media and theatre folk as Harvey took to the stage to share some of her previous hilarious compositions and debut some of her latest music theatre songs.

The evening featured repertoire from her first show Call Girl the Musical that premiered in Melbourne in recent years, but also debuted new work from the upcoming and outrageously titled hospital musical Prick.

Harvey with her signature smile and ravishing dress was in exceptional company with Bryce Ives, Laura Burzacott, and the talented Jack Howard leading a superb jazz trio.

It’s a rare pleasure to see director Ives performing on stage himself, and his smooth showman charisma and Burzacott’s ever- stunning voice and understated wit formed a wonderful foil to Harvey’s irrepressible and frantic comic vivacity. Meanwhile, Jack Howard managed a little demure scene-stealing both on the trumpet and with his unexpected solo song ‘Like A Gondolier’.

Ives’ skill at creating atmosphere was in play as usual: the casual, relaxed vibe and unrehearsed patter were completely charming, and this rare sneak peak at a show in development was wonderfully beguiling.

The strength of the songs presented was in their casual Australian vernacular and broad vulgar humour, with plenty of topical and local jokes. Musically and lyrically, there is nothing particularly daring or sophisticated in any of the numbers, and every song seemed to include some extensive word or phrase repetition. However, these are of course works in progress, and the good-natured comedy and appealing energy always made each song highly enjoyable to hear and see performed.

Australia music theatre longs for original local works, and Harvey with her smokin’ hot companions and her flair for distinctly home-bred humour and fun song-writing deserves nothing but admiration and support.

It was exciting to be part of the inception of a new project, and it will be even more exciting to see it fire up into a fully fledged musical in the near future. So keep a look out for more about Harvey’s new show shortly – it’s not like you’re going to forget that title in a hurry.


Hypnotic and intriguing – but got a little lost…

By Kim Edwards

Cabaret is often distinguished from other forms of theatre by its atmosphere: the sense of being drawn into the space and narrative, and caught up easily and absorbidly into a new and rarified air.

Innovative collaborative cabaret  project Chants Des Catacombes is promenade theatre that thus beckons you down into the beautiful and eerie bowels of the Donkey Wheel House in Bourke Street to hear the tales and echoing songs of three women who still haunt the labyrinthine basement long after their demise.

The initial creation of atmosphere and use of space is just sublime in this production. Nicola Andrew’s spectacular lighting design reveals each new room and scene as a place of chiaroscuro and spectacle, and the audience wandered fearless and fascinated down halls, around pillars and through doorways as the action unfolded in front, behind and between us.

The concept of Chants Des Catacombes is beguiling, and the multi-sensory experience highly engaging, but narrative and characters are strangely jarring and indistinct. The desire to understand who these three women are and what holds them here remains unsatiated: lyrics and anecdotes were difficult to hear as snatches of story floated away down corridors, diction was muffled or volume insufficient.

Moreover, while cabaret delights in reconsidering songs in new contexts and styles, obviously anachronistic modern music when we wanted to immerse ourselves in the past felt intrusive and disruptive – particularly the closing number that left the audience silent in surprise.

Perhaps the desire is indeed to unsettle us and prevent us losing ourselves completely in this world and the lives and deaths created, as fragmented narrative and characters and songs wisp and whisper away into the shadows, but for me, Chants Des Catacombes ultimately did not quite achieve the gothic, ghostly, sultry heights the publicity had evoked.

Nonetheless, the performances were certainly mesmerising (and I appreciated the subtle art of the ushers as crew, scenery, signposts, props and brooding presence), the overall experience is unique and enjoyable, and the chance to traverse and haunt a cabaret performance space yourself as witness and voyeur and silent participant is – well, simply to die for

Chants Des Catacombes is the collaborative creation of:

• Nicola Andrews (Lighting Designer and VCA Design Graduate)
• Anna Boulic (Winner of the 2010 Short and Sweet Cabaret Festival, Harpist and NIDA Graduate)
• Laura Burzacott (Call Girl the Musical and I Heart Frankston)
• Nathan Gilkes (Theatre & Opera Director and VCA Directing Graduate)
• David Harford (Choreographer and Ballarat Arts Academy Graduate)
• Bryce Ives (Theatre Director Call Girl the Musical, The History Boys and I Heart Frankston)
• Emma Leah (Scent Alchemist)
• Zoe McDonald (Wrong Town and VCA Musical Theatre Graduate)
• Sophie Woodward (Designer and VCA Graduate)

Venue: Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke Street Melbourne
Dates:  Fri-Sat 17-18 June 8.30pm & 10.30pm, Sun 19 June 6pm.
Tickets: $30/conc $25
Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com/9503 or at the door